The nation’s milking herd has completed its contraction phase and has begun the process of growth, according to Eric Meyer, president, HighGround Dairy. But don’t expect a huge jump right away.

“The strongest income-over-feed margins in U.S. history are about to bestow themselves upon the nation’s dairy farmers,” Meyer writes. “However, herd growth may be conducted at a cautious pace early on in many areas of the country as dairymen become more conservative with their fiscal approach during this bullish cycle.”

Still, with such extremely favorable margins beginning to show up on dairy farmers’ milk checks, Meyer says he anticipates this growth phase to accelerate in the coming months.

And yogurt production plays a role in how many cows get put on and where. As dairy analyst Jerry Dryer recently pointed out in his Dairy & Food Market Analyst newsletter, Glanbia just laid off 5 percent of its 1,100 employees, citing a shortfall in the milk supply. And the most recent Milk Production figures from USDA do show that milk production is down in Idaho. But, as Dryer, notes, the cause is Chobani.

“Yogurt is worth more than cheese milk and Chobani has shifted some production from New York to Idaho where milk is about three dollars cheaper,” Dryer notes. “Bingo. Less milk for cheese.”